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Public Law

Fourth Edition

Mark Elliott and Robert Thomas

09 July 2020

ISBN: 9780198836742

984 pages

In Stock

Price: £42.99

The market-leading public law text: uses three key themes to tie the subject together with style and flair.



This best-selling textbook covers the essential topics of undergraduate public law modules in an insightful and interesting way. The authors capture the vibrant nature of public law in practice and the key contemporary debates in the field.

  • The fresh, direct and clear writing style enables students to really understand the fundamentals of the subject while also encouraging them to engage with difficult issues and debates
  • The book guides students through three key themes - the importance of executive accountability, the shift from political to legal constitutionalism, and multilayered governance - in order to demonstrate how the many strands of public law are interlinked
  • Practical examples are used throughout to show students how this subject is of essential importance to everyday life in the UK
  • Questions are posed throughout each chapter to encourage students get to grips with the contentious nature of the subject
  • The authors use figures throughout the book to clearly explain complex concepts
  • The 'expert commentary' feature at the end of every chapter allows students to see the debates within each subject area first-hand
  • Also available as an ebook enhanced with self-assessment activities and multi-media content to offer a fully immersive experience and extra learning support

New to this edition

  • A new introductory chapter helps students get to grips with the key aspects of public law as a field of study, outlining why it is important, how the UK and its political system function, and the fundamentals of the constitution
  • Every chapter has been thoroughly updated, in particular those related to the implications of Brexit
  • The European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 and the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020 are analysed in detail, considering how EU law will operate in the UK going forward as well as the wider constitutional implications of the Brexit process
  • Recent key judgments are addressed, including detailed discussion of the UK Supreme Court's judgments in the Miller I and Miller II cases, which are examined with reference to fundamental constitutional principles including parliamentary sovereignty, the separation of powers, executive accountability to Parliament, and the concept of justiciability

About the Author(s)

Mark Elliott, Professor of Public Law, University of Cambridge, and Robert Thomas, Professor of Public Law, University of Manchester

Mark Elliott is Professor of Public Law and Chair of the Faculty of Law at the University of Cambridge. From 2015 to 2019, he served as Legal Adviser to the House of Lords Select Committee on the Constitution, providing advice to the Committee on a range of legislative and other matters. Mark co-founded the international biennial Public Law Conference series and co-convened the first two conferences. His research interests lie in UK constitutional law and English administrative law; a good deal of his recent work has concerned the constitutional implications of Brexit. Mark is the recipient of a University of Cambridge Pilkington Prize for excellence in teaching and is the author of a widely read blog, Public Law for Everyone (www.publiclawforeveryone.com), that is aimed at public law scholars, current and prospective law students, policy-makers, and others who are interested in the subject.

Robert Thomas is Professor of Public Law at the University of Manchester. His research focuses on administrative law. His book Administrative Justice and Asylum Appeals (2011) was awarded first prize by the Society of Legal Scholars Peter Birks Prize for Outstanding Legal Scholarship in 2011. Robert has acted as a specialist adviser to the House of Commons Constitutional Affairs Select Committee (2003-04). He is a member of the Administrative Justice Council and co-chairs its Academic Panel. Robert has been awarded research funding by the Nuffield Foundation and the Economic and Social Research Council to fund empirical legal research into aspects of administrative law including immigration judicial reviews and administrative review processes. He has also undertaken consultancy work in China, Japan and Serbia on the development and design of administrative law in those countries. Robert is a visiting fellow at the Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium.

Table of Contents

    Part I: Introduction to Public Law
    1.:Public law: an introduction
    2.:Constitutions and constitutional law
    3.:Themes, sources, and principles
    Part II: The Constitution - Institutions and Principles
    4.:Separation of powers - an introduction
    5.:UK central government
    6.:The UK Parliament
    7.:The judiciary
    8.:Devolution and the territorial constitution
    9.:The European Union and Brexit
    Part III: Good Governance - Scrutiny, Accountability, and Transparency
    10.:Good governance: an introduction
    11.:Parliamentary scrutiny of central government
    Part IV: Judicial Review
    12.:Judicial review - an introduction
    13.:The grounds of judicial review
    14.:Judicial review - scope, procedures, and remedies
    15.:The effectiveness and impact of judicial review
    Part V: Administrative Justice
    16.:Ombudsmen and complaints
    Part VI: Human Rights
    19.:Human rights and the UK constitution
    20.:Freedom of expression
    21.:Freedom of assembly
    22.:Policing - powers, accountability, and governance


"Review from previous edition This book is excellent, and it is difficult to think of any other textbook authored by academics with greater expertise." - Vicky Thirlaway, Senior Lecturer in Law, Sheffield Hallam University

"It is the best public law textbook on the market and academics with a variety of approaches find it very useful as a recommended text." - Joe Tomlinson, Senior Lecturer in Public Law, University of York

"This is an excellent book which our students enjoy using. It explains issues well without dumbing down and engages with debate in a way which encourages students to form their own views." - Chloe Wallace, Associate Professor, University of Leeds

"The expert commentaries are excellent, not least in that they occasionally challenge the views of the authors, introducing students to the practices of academic debate." - Navraj Singh Ghaleigh, Senior Lecturer, University of Edinburgh

Additional Resources

Digital formats and resources
This fourth edition is supported by online resources and is available for students or institutions to purchase in a variety of digital formats.

  • The ebook is enhanced with embedded self-assessment activities, and multi-media content including author videos, to offer a fully immersive experience and extra learning support. www.oxfordtextbooks.co.uk/ebooks
  • These study tools that enhance the ebook, along with updates, directed web links for further research, and diagrams from the book, are available as stand-alone online resources for use alongside the print book.

    Visit Mark Elliott's blog and Twitter page for additional insight into public law.

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